Manchester Evening News: Matt Nixon on Spain and Tour School
Article posted: 01 November 2018
I’m really grateful for all of the messages and support I’ve had, and you’ve got to be disappointed in that situation.
Last week at the Valderrama Masters I bogeyed my second last hole of the season to miss out on full playing rights for next year and now I’ve got to go to Final Stage of Qualifying School.
I’ve heard it described lots of ways like ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘gut wrenching’. I’m really grateful for all of the messages and support I’ve had, and you’ve got to be disappointed in that situation.
But – and it may surprise people – hand on heart I’m not that gutted because it’s a year’s work, over 22 tournaments, and not just that bogey that’s cost me.
Over the last 12 events I’ve earnt eight times as many points as I did in my first 10. I didn’t play well enough and missed six cuts out of eight and if I’d made one or two more cuts it might not have come down to me having to finish fifth in Spain.
I’d not played well at Valderrama in the past and really I went into the week without too much expectation and really just hoping to keep the momentum going.
It was a crazy week of delays, taking five days to complete three rounds when we obviously normally do four in four. It was something else to deal with and after shooting a couple under on Thursday I didn’t play at all on Friday because of the weather.
I ended up playing my second round on the Saturday, having a long time to think about making the cut, which I managed to do.
Before I went out on Sunday I asked Jack Barber from my management company ISM what I needed to do because it was useful to know at that stage. I was going along fine for 10 hole and we were called off again!
So then we had to scramble around sorting flights and I also went to bed knowing that I needed to pick up one shot or finish fifth or sixth, that it was in my hands.
When we got back on the Monday I got a decent start and made birdie on 11 but just wasn’t playing that well, just scrambling really. I’d hit a poor shot right and clattered a tree on 16 and then on the 16thgreen I saw a leaderboard and realized I had a chance of doing it.
Standing on the tee of the par-five 17thwas the first time I’d felt nervous all week. I can think of lots of final stretches that you’d rather go down needing two pars. I hit a bad shot left into the trees, chipped out and thought I hit a great third that was just a little long over the back, I got it up to 10 feet and then missed the putt.
I’ve got to draw the positives. In Oman at the start of the year, I’d missed my 12thstraight cut on the European Tour and I was sitting in my hotel running out of money and thinking it might be the end of my career because it didn’t feel sustainable.
Now, I’ve made 10 of the last 12 cuts and had two top-10s and there are lots of stats telling me it’s going in the right direction and that there’s good stuff still to come. I know I can compete.
In 2015 when I lost my card I was distraught and carried it with me for a long time. I was sick of golf and I think that prompted a bit of a downward spiral. Now I feel totally the opposite.
I feel like I can do well at Q School –I’ve got through five out of six times - and I just need to keep this momentum going and treat it like another golf event.
Six rounds is a long week and you never know what can happen. One bad hole can knock you off but you have to remember there’s a lot of golf to be played and every shot matters. I’m going into it with confidence.